On January 26th, I made a huge error in my basketball game against West Central. To anybody else, that game might have seemed unimportant- insignificant really. They were not a conference rival or a sectional team. To me however, this game was very significant because I used to attend that school. At that game, I played all of my friends from kindergarten to fifth grade. I hoped that I didn’t make a fool of myself. I hoped to do amazing so that all of my old friends would see what a great basketball player I had become.
I hoped that I would make a play so amazing that everyone would remember it. While I would certainly not forget the play I made, it was not the spectacular one I had dreamed. My gym teacher- Mr. Prairie asked the class, “Who’s ready for the basketball game tonight against West Central,” and I wondered if I was. Because of my insistent worrying I could not manage to make a play through all of gym class (we were playing basketball) and my worry followed me to seventh hour Language Arts.
Throughout Language Arts, I could not pay attention to what my teacher was saying, because my mind was completely preoccupied with that night’s game. Thankfully, class ended without too much incident and I walked with the team to the history classrooms to do our homework. Our coach was a seventh grade history teacher at our school, so the team always did homework in his classroom before a game. If we didn’t have any homework- or if we just wanted to goof off, we could watch Power Rangers on the Promethean board.
I was working on that day’s Algebra homework with my friend, Cordell. Eventually, my anxiety formed a question and I asked him, “Does this game mean a lot to anyone or is it just me,” “This game is like any other game we play. We just have to try our hardest, and come out with a win,” His answer lowered my anxiety and by the time I had finished Algebra, I was ready for the game- prepared to do amazing. I couldn’t wait for the game to start. When the buzzer went off, the announcer said the starting line-up. I had not expected to start, but I was fine starting on the bench.
Coach would put me in when I was needed. I was eagerly waiting to go in, but by the time the first quarter was over, I was still warming the bench. The second quarter flew by, my anxiety making the first half of the game feel like the first fifteen minutes. On the contrary, the third quarter droned on and my legs started to feel like lead. I worried that if I did get put in; my muscles would be too cold, and I would make a mistake. When the final quarter of the game began, and I had yet to be put in, my mood changed again.
Instead of the worry that had previously consumed me, that game time readiness took over once more. Finally -with only one minute and ten seconds on the clock, my coach put me in. At this point in the game, we were on defense- West Central was bulldozing down the court. We only had a two point lead and the clock continued its countdown. The other team was passing the ball to set up the play. As the ball flew past me, I lunged out to tip it away. There was only thirty-six seconds on the clock, and I headed with the ball towards the half court line.
The ball was in my left hand, so I quickly crossed over to my dominant one. Only twelve seconds left. The court and the clock disappeared. It felt like there was only a tenth of a second left- a blink of an eye. I took a chance and shot the ball towards the basket. The arc was perfect, and I was certain that my shot would be all net. Time seemed to slow down, until my heart stopped as the ball made a sharp clang, like that of a gun being fired, as it collided with the rim. As the ball went up, I saw a chance that it would go in this time.
I couldn’t fathom not making the shot. Why had the buzzer not gone off yet? The ball hit the rim once again and fell to the ground with an echo in the otherwise silent gym. A few seconds later, and the buzzer went off. Even though I did not make the outstanding play I had wished I would, that game was a learning experience that I will never forget. I learned that I need to relax in games, and not let the pressure and nerves get to me. I also learned that next time, I should probably look at the clock before throwing up a half-court shot.